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Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a medical condition primarily seen in premature infants, where portions of the bowel undergo necrosis (tissue death). It most often occurs in the days or weeks after birth. With prompt recognition and treatment premature babies that have necrotizing enterocolitis can go on to lead healthy lives. If the condition is not recognized, however, and progresses, NEC can cause severe, lie-altering damage to the intestine and can be even be fatal.
How Does Necrotizing Enterocolitis Develop?
The cause of necrotizing enterocolitis is unknown. It most often manifests in premature infants. Some suspect that there is something that causes a decrease in the blood flow to the bowel or intestine that prevents the bowel from producing protective mucus Feeding infants concentrated infant formula has also been linked with NEC.
What Causes Necrotizing Enterocolitis?
Although the exact cause is not known, it is thought intestinal tissues weakened by too little oxygen or blood flow become infected when feedings are started and food moves into the intestinal tract, allowing bacteria from the food to cause damage to the weakened intestinal tissues. This can lead to severe infection in the abdomen.
Some of the symptoms of NEC are:
— Abdominal bloating or distention (a belly that is larger and harder than normal)
— Feeding difficulties and intolerance
— Bloody or black stool
— Lethargy or tiredness
— A fast heart rate
— Trouble maintaining a normal body temperature
Generally, NEC occurs during the two weeks after birth. NEC may occur more frequently in formula fed infants. There have also been cases where multiple cases of NEC arise in a hospital nursery, leading to the supposition that NEC could be contagious.
When a baby is exhibiting signs of NEC immediate medical attention is critical. Abdominal x-rays can confirm the existence of NEC. Subsequent or “serial” x-rays are useful to track the course of NEC.
Once confirmed, treatment includes:
— Stopping formula or breast milk feedings
— Insertion of nasogastric tube to rest the stomach
— Intravenous catheter for fluids and nutrition
— Antibiotics for infection
— Oxygen or ventilator support if baby has breathing problems
— Monitoring of stools
— Continued blood work and x-rays
NEC will sometimes require surgery if the bowel is severely damaged or if stool leaks into the abdomen. In the majority of cases, NEC can be treated and resolved. In cases requiring surgery, the child may continue to have some gastro intestinal problems.
How Medical Malpractice Can Worsen NEC
If NEC is not promptly diagnosed and treated, intestinal narrowing or a stricture of the intestine may result, as well as intestinal perforation, abdominal infection, and even death. Once it is suspected that a baby may be developing NEC, treatments must be started to minimize the amount of damage to the bowel or baby. Delays in diagnosis and treatment may result in life-altering damage and death.
Helping the Injured Find Justice & Compensation
If you believe your baby developed NEC while in the hospital and suffered preventable injuries feel free to contact our office. Your child may have been the victim of medical negligence. We have recovered millions of dollars for our clients including clients whose babies have suffered from NEC.
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— 10 years of inclusion in the Connecticut and New England Super Lawyers® list
— Membership in the Million Dollar Advocates Forum
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People who have suffered the devastating consequences of medical malpractice turn to us because we have a track record of success. Let us put that track record to work for you! We will recover the funds you deserve for compensation and to provide for future medical care. You will pay no fee unless we recover a verdict or settlement on your behalf.